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Archive for the ‘Research and Study’ Category

The science to back it up

The right size search carries on…

Posted by Condomologist on March 2, 2010

Our Swiss friends have found that pre-teens are doing it and doing it and doing it unsafely because their wee-wees are too small for normal size condoms. So it looks like they’re producing an extra-small condom. And if it works out, I imagine there’s a market for older men with smaller penises — assuming we find a way not to emasculate them too much in marketing and selling these things.

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Surprise: Guys (and gals) have condom-fitting issues

Posted by Condomologist on February 23, 2010

It’s about damn time sexologists start researching and asking the tough questions about condom fit and guys’ perception of how condoms feel in terms of size, and then how that relates to breakage, slippage, pleasure and a number of other intercourse-related outcomes. The good folks at Kinsey did an internet-based study that found not only did almost 45% of these  vaginal intercourse-having men deem the length or width of their condoms too short, long, wide or narrow, but of those reporting ill-fitting condoms, there were much higher percentages who had erection problems, irritation issues, condom and breakage incidences, reduction in pleasure, etc. than those who reported an “OK” fit. Basically, if you don’t like how your condom fits, you’re gonna not have as safe or good time in the sack.

All this makes general sense to me, but I’m left a bit empty their conclusion: “Men and their female sex partners may benefit from public health efforts designed to promote the improved fit of condoms.” That’s all well and good, and I’d appreciate more substantial, thoughtful messages from the often simple-minded, hand-out-a-million-condoms-and-all-will-be-well public health advocates across the globe.  I fear, though, they have missed the point: There’s a mighty good chance that the fellas who reported ill-fitting jimmies wouldn’t like the fit no matter the most massive public health effort we’ve ever seen. The report failed to address the possibility that their cause and effect are all backwards. Take me for example: I don’t really like any condom I’ve ever worn, so chances are I’m not going to like the fit regardless. Or furthermore, I’ve tended to enjoy condoms more the better the sex has been, and when the sex is kinda blah (forget downright bad), I don’t think too highly of the plastic sheath rubbing against my sensitive penile skin. On a related point regarding breakage or slippage: I wonder whether, in the aftermath of a broken condom, one would then be more likely to report an ill fit than had it not broken. After all, we have to point to some reason — crappy material, improper use, no lube, and so on — so when asked the question, I may very well respond that the size wasn’t quite right either.

Seriously, I don’t mean to bash the study, and take a listen to the podcast  done by Drs. Waugh and Yarber (from Kinsey) discussing the study, and you’ll hear Yarber note rather emphatically that “public health has real, real challenges” and in particular, we’d do well to find out why it is that those who reported an “OK” condom fit felt as they did and how they differed from their ill-fitting counterparts. (You’ll also, if you have a decent sense of humour, find it laugh-out-loud-while-alone funny to hear two older distinguished gentlemen — one British for whatever it’s worth — discuss two people “going pretty hard at it” and “how vigorous the sex should be” and the “speed…of pelvic movements.” All in the context of the study, of course. Call me immature, I know this is serious stuff, and I aspire to be these dudes one day, but trust me that it will crack you up.) So clearly those behind the study know there begs further research.

There’s also the very basic issue of what guys’ idea of a good fit should be. We’re talking the difference of millimeters here, so it seems a bit of a stretch to glean too much from this study. Let’s say I reported a condom was “too narrow” or “too long.” How much wider or shorter would I want it to be? I might want a wider condom ’cause I got good girth, but I wouldn’t want it too wide — or maybe a condom doesn’t even exist that would be wide enough for my liking. And no public health effort will remedy these issues. I’m just not so sure that fit is the right topic to tackle. It’s surely an important one, but condoms still suck to use, and we have to question that a bit more before getting stuck on size. I might be wrong, and I’ll stand corrected with proper study, but let’s take the TheyFit condom, which is made to fit different penis lengths and widths. It could be the perfect size, but if the latex feels too thick, you’re going to have unhappy customers. They’ve been around for awhile, but something ain’t quite right if they haven’t become all the rage.

And lastly, I’ll continue my broken-record crusade about lube. Promoting lube with condoms will do more for condom use than all the eroticization of condoms alone could ever do. Maybe I’m just biased because my sex life couldn’t function without it, but I have worked in the field a few years and anecdotal evidence bears out my conclusion, if only a little bit. Far too many people, teens to seniors, haven’t got the slightest idea they can purchase a $10 bottle of high quality (non-KY) lube at the store, put a few drops inside the condom, outside the condom, on your partner’s vulva or ass, and have their sex lives transformed. Instead they settle for dry, irritating, painful, condom-breaking sex because no one talks about this stuff openly and honestly.

So let’s keep talking about poor condom size and its ill effects on safety and pleasure, let’s let the people know they’ve got more than just Trojans, Lifestyles and Durex, and let’s promote condom experimentation. But let’s also be realistic and recognize that well hung guys still won’t be doing backflips over Magnums and our smaller fellas are not transformed by Snugger Fit Lifestyles. And let’s ask more extensive questions next time we do such a study.

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Go Kinsey, it’s your birthday!

Posted by Condomologist on June 19, 2009

The Kinsey Institute  at Indiana University has been awarded an NIH grant to study condom use, in particular why heterosexual men choose not to wear condoms or take them off mid-coitus due to lack of sensation. Much needed research, look forward to the results.

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Sensis condom testers wanted!

Posted by Condomologist on June 16, 2009

As I wrote about awhile back, there’s a new condom on the market called Sensis, which promotes its QuickStrips technology as a foolproof way to put on a condom without the fumbling and bumbling associated with other condoms. I’ll admit that putting on a condom is not the easiest of tasks, so while I mocked it a bit in my previous post, I’m willing to give these condoms their props if the people respond. If you’ve used one already, please give me your feedback. And if you want a free sample, I’ll happily send you the one I just received in the mail. Just shoot me an email. I’ll leave you with the write-up from the insert that came along with my sample.

Because of the new Quickstrips technology, condom application is quick and secure every time. The tabs mean no more fumbling to figure out which side is correct — a true benefit since 30% of the time users initially put condoms on incorrectly and then have to flip it, at which point it’s contaminated. Given your hands don’t even have to touch the condom you avoid nicks and breaks plus the lubricant stays on the condom — no messy hands. As one user said, “This is great because even drunk in the dark, I can get this on!” Like we said, “Quick, easy, safe, secure.”

I’ll simply point out — especially in the wake of the withdrawal effectiveness debate — that studies have shown that pre-cum does not contain sperm, despite what most people in the sex ed world will tell you, unless the sperm comes from a previous ejaculation where the man has not cleared his urethra by urinating. So the chances that putting a condom on upside down, then quickly realizing the error and putting it on correctly, will lead to pregnancy is slim-to-none. But like I said, if folks want Quickstrips for ease of use, then let them have Quickstrips.

Posted in Condom Brands and Styles, Distribution and Availability, Education, Marketing, Research and Study, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Condom Use Worldwide

Posted by Condomologist on May 21, 2009

The Guardian takes a look at WHO data reflecting the prevalence of condom use around the globe. China comes in atop the list around 90%, with the UK a good ways behind in second, and the US lagging even farther back at 72.8%, behind Vietnam, Iran and others. Check out the data here. It doesn’t take into account myriad factors — presence of other contraceptive methods, China’s one-child policy, condom availability…the list goes on — but it’s interesting nonetheless.

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Condoms for BJs?

Posted by Condomologist on May 2, 2009

That’s a question constantly popping up in the sexual health world. To be clear, you can definitely contract STDs other than HIV — and none of us are excited to get Herpes or Syphilis or chlamydia of the throat — but because of its severity, getting to the bottom of the question of whether HIV can be transmitted to the performer/receptive partner of oral sex on a man with ejaculation…it’s kinda worth knowing. In the past, I’ve been rather flippant when it comes to using flavored condoms for blow jobs, because a) so few people do it because it doesn’t feel that good and b) no one can definitively point to a case where HIV’s been transmitted that way. So recently I came across a panel discussion between some people with fancy degrees from 6 years ago addressing just this question, and as I said to a colleague, Depending on your state of mind, reading it is either fascinating or maddening. Basically they can barely come to any reasonable conclusion. If you’ve got the time, and this stuff interests you, take a look. If you don’t have the time, I’ll just say that some experts think it definitely happens (though rarely) and others aren’t so sure. Either way, it’s very low risk. Or is it extremely low risk? Or relatively low risk? It’s amusing to picture these doctors arguing over semantics like that, but it’s exactly what they do.

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Safer Sex Messages are Getting Stale

Posted by Condomologist on April 29, 2009

Seth Michael Donsky writes a thoughtful, in-depth piece over at New York Press highlighting the failure of safer sex messages to radically change the risky behaviour of gay men in 2009. On the contrary, he notes, part of what holds us back in the sexual health field is an inability to navigate the complex implications of the simplistic Wear a condom mantra we’re so good at repeating ad nauseum. Donsky peeks into the bathouse culture, as well as the minds of acquaintances and experts in the field, and brings awareness to a reality many doing the HIV-related prevention, testing, counseling and outreach — like I do daily — have yet to face: throwing condoms in people’s faces and telling them what they should do often ignores and misses the point. Some men see HIV as a liveable, chronic disease (which, in a sense it is, though we don’t really know what the long-term outcomes are for the current generation of HIV-positive folks). Others lie about their status — or at least lie by omission. Many men simply don’t care. A good many people either can’t negotiate safer sex or aren’t very good at it. And condomless sex not only feels damn good, but it retains an appeal in that it’s taboo, dangerous, and the opposite of the instructions they’re bombarded with day in and day out. At least in America, most sexually active adults know full well that condoms reduce the risk of HIV transmission; and yet the numbers of new HIV cases certainly aren’t going down. It’s easy to place blame on the right wing homophobes and the abstinence-only religious types — believe me, they deserve a hefty serving of it — but hopefully sooner rather than later, those of us in sexual health, with the best of intentions, also need to take a good, long look in the mirror. Handing out condoms and counseling those getting tested on risk reduction are worthwhile ventures (assuming one wants to reduce his risk), but aggressively tackling homophobia and the shame and stigma around HIV and AIDS seems to me an equally important piece of the puzzle. Read Donsky’s piece, for it reveals much more than just bathouse culture and bareback sex. It’s a call to rethinking strategy and tactics and understanding for the sex-positive crowd I’m proud to be a part of.

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Want to be snug as a bug in a rug?

Posted by Condomologist on April 24, 2009

Further proof emerges from the UK that a good many folk out there are unaware of the many condom sizes available: “More than half of London men have been wearing the wrong size of condom, unaware they could be snug as a bug in a rug,” writes the thelondonpaper.com. In particular, those old fogies, the over-55 crowd, are particularly clueless when it comes to condom variation, concludes the study done by condom brand Pasante . We need to start sex ed programming for old single men, what with their inability to maintain an erection and their not knowing about condoms that may make safer sex more enjoyable for them.

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Old Men COINED

Posted by Condomologist on April 23, 2009

Interesting Q&A over at Time Out New York’s dating advice column. An over-50 recent divorcee writes in because she says all the older men ready to get in her pants refuse to wear condoms because they can’t keep it up with them on. They’re suffering from COINED, as I wrote about a few weeks back, or condom-induced erectile dysfunction, something young bucks aren’t at all immune from either. But it struck me that older men who otherwise can stay hard really may suffer more from this problem, as there’s a good chance they’ve spent a good chunk of their adult lives having condomless sex with their previous long-term partners. But now they’re divorced and back on the market — or cheating or whatever — and not having seen a condom in 20 years, they’re penis goes droopy with a hat on it. With a divorce rates around 50% and the over-50 crowd not worrying about pregnancy and with STD/HIV rates going up amongst the gray-haired lot, I imagine there are a good many women in similar situations, wanting to get down with a new man, wanting new man to use a condom, but new man unable to perform under the circumstances or simply unwilling to entertain the possibility. The response is spot-on: If she’s gonna stick to her guns, make sure the guys get tested before things get hot and heavy and then proceed without a condom. But what fun is putting off a one-night stand when you’re over-50 and single and eager? So old men dating old women, it’s time to start masturbating with condoms on or doing whatever it takes to allow you to keep an erection while protected. Or else you’ll be seeing me down at the testing center soon enough.

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Le grand penis francais

Posted by Condomologist on April 23, 2009

So apparently the man behind the development of the spray-on latex condom heads up an entity called the Institute for Condom Consultancy. And apparently said Institute does research in Europe asking men to measure their penis size, thus providing data to inform condom makers so they can best tailor their product and marketing. The results? The French report the longest schlongs, a full 3 cm. longer than the Greeks. And still Reuters has the audacity to question the honesty of the French in their self-reporting! As if a man would ever be so self-conscious as to exaggerate his penis size.

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